I attended a virtual conference this past weekend. It was one of the things I actually wouldn’t have gone to in person, so basically the craziness of our current situation created this opportunity for me. One of the speakers was Donald Miller, whose specialty is storytelling. While he usually applies his expertise to help businesses tell their story for marketing purposes, this time around it was all about how to look at the main four characters of a good story as insight into your own behavior.
I want to share this with you because I am ALL about becoming an observer of our behavior as a way to improve ourselves; and because it’s what I do, I want to take it one step further than that to look at what you’re doing in your business right now and what you could be doing.
Before I dive in, please know that we are all a mix of all of these characters and we can go back and forth between them at different times. The goal is to observe your behavior and move with intention toward the character you want to be.
Miller’s first character is “the victim” and as soon as I say this, odds are you can think of someone right away who is continually convinced they’re “the victim.” It’s very easy right now to see yourself as the victim and yes things have happened that are beyond our control. But I love the way that Miller describes the true role of the victim; it’s the weakest character in the story because really the victim is just a prop used to tell the other character’s story and then goes away.
Think of it in terms of a TV drama. The victim is usually out of the story before the opening credits even appear. If you have ever watched an episode of CSI, NCIS, Law and Order, etc, the victim’s story never progresses past the opening credits! As Miller pointed out, the victim is literally just a prop to get the story rolling for the other characters. Holy cow is that a HUGE point! A victim is just a prop.
While I understand things are scary and confusing and overwhelming right now you do get to choose how you react to the situation. Your business can’t progress if you’re stuck in victimhood.
How do you know if you’re slipping into being a victim? Well, it’s basically the opposite of personal responsibility. As soon as you place any sort of blame on someone or something outside of yourself, you’re behaving as “the victim” and giving up your ability to improve your story. You get out of this dead-end mindset by thinking about how your business can move out and away from stuck and instead into taking action to improve, after all, who wants their business to be just a prop in the real story.
The second character is the villain. The entire story, as Miller describes, is set out to create the demise of the victim. Think about that. The entire story is designed to create the demise of the victim. Villains don’t have any friends, as Miller puts it, villains have minions.
I’m really happy to say that as I write this and think about the people around me, I can’t really think of many villains in my sphere. People who in this current situation are taking advantage where they can. I just don’t have that around me. YAY YOU GUYS!
The hero is the focus of the story, and as Miller describes, the story is all about transforming the hero into a better version of his or herself. The hero always leaves the story in a better place than where they were when they started. It can be really scary being the hero. Being the hero in your business means that you might have to do something that you’re uncomfortable doing.
The other way I would apply the hero character to business right now was Miller’s concept of “it’s all about a transformation.” Many of my clients are experiencing growth in their business right now and it’s because they’ve been willing to make a transformation in how they deliver their services or what specific services they’re offering or what they’re willing to do. How can your business be the hero right now? What transformation can you make and how can you put yourself out there in a way that shows growth? The hero’s journey is not necessarily an easy one, but whether we’re going through a global pandemic or not, your business should always be designed to continually become a better version of itself.
A lot of times those are the three characters in a story, but Miller added a fourth and he called this fourth character “the guide.” The guide helps the hero win. (Yes, if Mr. Miagi just popped into your head, you’re getting the point!) The guide usually shows the path to the transformation, but I want you to think about this in another way. With everything that is going on right now, you and your business have the opportunity to stand as a role model to others just in how you conduct yourself. Don’t just think about what you do for your clients, but what example are you setting to other businesses and entrepreneurs. Be a guide not just by helping a hero transform, but by showing a victim they don’t have to be stuck there. If ever there was a guide needed, now is that time!
I invite you to think about what you’re doing personally and what you’re doing in your business. It doesn’t mean that I am negating the current situation we are in. Yes, it’s very scary, but you absolutely get to choose how you’re responding to what’s going on. Are you choosing to be a victim? Are you choosing to interpret your business’s situation as things that are happening to you and that you have no opportunity to make it better? Why would you want to be the victim who doesn’t even get to be in the story and instead gets blown up, or is taken away by the medical examiner before the opening credits? (Yes, I watch too much NCIS, but only the original or Los Angeles, not the New Orleans version.)
While I’m very proud to say I just don’t know many villains, I do think every now and then playing the victim turns into behaving like a villain. So be careful about balancing between giving yourself time to feel the feelings our current environment has invoked, and not allowing yourself to stay stuck there.
Acknowledging again that we are all a different mixture of the characters at different times, the whole point is to spend as little time as possible as a victim, make sure to absolutely never be a villain, do what you need to do to transform your business as the hero, and be that amazing guide and role model to others.